Controlled Dismantlement of the Euro Area in Order to Preserve the European Union and Single European Market
The Eurozone crisis mobilises an appreciable amount of the attention of politicians and the public, with calls for a decisive defence of the euro, because the single currency’s demise is said to be the beginning of the end of the EU and Single European Market. In our view, preserving the euro may result in something completely different than expected: the disintegration of the EU and the Single European Market rather than their further strengthening. The fundamental problem with the common currency is individual countries’ inability to correct their external exchange rates, which normally constitutes a fast and efficient adjustment instrument, especially in crisis times. Europe consists of nation states that constitute the major axes of national identity and major sources of government’s legitimisation. Staying within the euro zone may sentence some countries – which, for whatever reason, have lost or may lose competitiveness – to economic, social and civilizational degradation, and with no way out of this situation. This may disturb social and political cohesion in member countries, give birth to populist tendencies that endanger the democratic order, and hamper peaceful cooperation in Europe. The situation may get out of control and trigger a chaotic break-up of the euro zone, threatening the future of the whole EU and Single European Market. In order to return to the origins of European integration and avoid the chaotic break-up of the euro zone, the euro zone should be dismantled in a controlled manner. If a weak country were to leave the euro zone, it would entail panic and a banking system collapse. Therefore we opt for a different scenario, in which the euro area is slowly dismantled in such a way that the most competitive countries or group of such countries leave the euro zone. Such a step would create a new European currency regime based on national currencies or currencies serving groups of homogenous countries, and save EU institutions along with the Single European Market.
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National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
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